Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Courtney Is Learning

So there is a long-standing grievance in our house that I will not do what it takes to learn how to use our professional cameras. Every time Steve starts talking about apertures and F-stops, my eyes glaze over and I feel like I am back at John Brown University in Research Methods or Statistics class.

When we shoot weddings he likes me to help out and man a camera, but he knows that he has to do all the settings for me. He also knows that there is a REALLY good chance that I am going to accidentally push some buttons and not know what to do when all my pictures start looking blue. I know, someone slap me silly please. I do have a college degree, and if I put just a teensy bit of effort into it, it would probably help. But I know if I come running Steve will shake his head and fix it for me. And I kind of like that :-)

But today...I had a breakthrough!! I decided enough is enough. I just took the big fat camera into Seth's room while the boys were playing together and started messing with buttons. I know that flash is a no no. Steve will tell you that, and
she doesn't like it either.

So I turned off the flash and used all natural window light.  I took about 50 pictures, but I got a few that I am really happy with.


And I THINK I started to understand a bit more about ISO and F-Stops in the process. I am still totally unclear on Aperture, but that is for another day.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mindie and Molly

Seth goes to neurofeedback twice per week.  In the simplest way I know how to say it, it is the practice of re-training the brain in areas where there is delay, impairment, or improper functioning.  There is a really technical definition of it, but we will just leave it at that!  
So we go and see "Mrs. Muggs" twice per week for a 30 minute session.  Seth sits down in a comfy arm chair, and he gets to load his lap up with all kinds of stuffed animals to play with. She then places a sensor on his ear and one on his scalp to monitor his  brain activity while he watches a "game" on a television screen.  There are several different games, but one looks like pac-man, and Seth calls that the "hungry little people movie". 

While Seth is doing his therapy, I sit and read a magazine.  It may not sound like much, but for some reason, it is a really relaxing break in my day to just be able to sit and read a magazine.  If I was at home, there would be 27 things on my to do list and a two year old using various toys as a step ladder to position himself to drop things into the fish tank, and I wouldn't take the time to just sit and relax.  So I appreciate those few moments of quiet.

At his first appointment of the week, he gets a little piece of candy as a reward for sitting still. But on Fridays....well, Friday is toy day.  Mrs. Muggs has a treasure chest that you get to pry open and then choose a toy from the wonderful bounty within.  Some of the various toys Seth has come home with are a punching balloon tied to a rubber band, a big bouncy rubber ball, and a little craft kit that we made a book from.  

But one Friday, not too long ago, Seth opened up the treasure chest and found a little blue horse.  It looks suspiciously like a "My Little Pony", but I thought it was sufficiently "boyish" since it was blue.  Seth chose the horse, and I had only a moment of hesitation, thinking maybe I should try to steer him towards something else.  Something more "manly" if you know what I mean.  But hey, he's four.  And it was a pretty cute horse!

The next Friday, he opened the treasure chest and without even poking around to see what was available, he immediately snatched up an orange horse just like the one he had chosen the week before.  This time, I did try to persuade him to choose something else since we already had one My Little Pony knock-off at home, and I didn't want to have to explain to Steve why the collection was growing.  Seth was having none of it.  He wanted the orange horse.  So off we went, with the orange horse tucked under his arm.

We got home, and he quickly went and found the blue horse in his room.  He brought them back out into the living room, holding them up proudly for me to see that he had TWO horses now. So I asked him what their names were, and he said, without missing a beat, "Mindie (pointed to the blue horse) and Molly (pointed to the orange horse)".


Mindie and Molly are two of our friends from church, and they both sing with our worship band. When we get to church on Sunday mornings, Seth makes a bee line for wherever Mindie and Molly are. It is the first thing he says when we walk in the door. "Where's Mindie and Molly?" 
                                                                       (I ripped this picture off Courtney Ramsey's facebook.  Sorry Nourtney :-)

So I guess Seth has his first little crush (x2), and he has given them the highest compliment by naming his two beloved horses after them.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Tagged

I don't LOVE doing these things.  But Amy tagged me, and as she is one of my best friends and all, I thought it would not be nice to pretend I didn't see my name on her "tagged" list.

Here are the "rules"-
7 Random/Weird facts about me-

1.) I used to be allergic to avocados when I was a kid.  They would make me break out in hives.  I even used a Redken shampoo once that had avocados in it, and it made my scalp and forehead break out in hives.  It had been over 10 years since I had tried an avocado, and Steve made me do it this year.  I no longer have an allergic reaction to avocados, and I am thoroughly addicted to Wholly Guacamole.  Thanks babe.

2.) I grew up on a farm, and by the time I was about 10 years old I had driven my Dad's pick-up truck on the road.  By the time I was about 12, I had driven a tractor on the road.  I also know how to drive a grain truck and the least favorite job on our farm, the grain cart.

(The reason this is the least favorite job is because you have to drive up next to the combine, match it's speed, and stay right in line with it while it dumps grain on you. Oh, and the tractors have CB radios in them, and you just MIGHT get yelled at for either going to slow, too fast, not staying the proper distance away, getting too far away, or just plain not paying enough attention. Sorry Dad... :-)

3.) I have texture issues.  These include, but are not limited to, touching foam (like the foam egg crate things that go on your mattress...ick!  It gives me the shivers just thinking about it) or eating things with what I would deem "weird" textures.  Like coconut.  Ick again.

4.) My husband thinks I have Youngest Child/Baby/I-Am-Used-To-Getting-My-Way Syndrome and I think he has Bossy/Know-It-All/Oldest Child Syndrome.  :-)

5.)  I am claustrophobic.  If this is genetic, I inherited it from my mother.  If it is learned behavior, I still inherited it from my mother.  
On one of our family vacations, we went to St. Louis and we visited the famous Arch.  We waited in a big, long line to get on an elevator which was going to take us to the top.  When we got to the front of the line, this is what awaited us:

My mother quickly made a bee-line OUT of line, and I for some un-known reason, decided I was going to face my claustrophobia fears that day.  I climbed into the dryer, I mean, the elevator, which has NO windows.  And who was the last person to climb in?  A hippie looking guy carrying a full hiking style backpack.  I remember talking to myself and taking deep breaths on the looooonnnnnngggggg ride to the top.  This is not one of my fondest vacation memories, and I almost thought I was going to not be able to get back in the thing to come back down.

6.) After I graduated from college, I went with 3 friends on a backpacking trip through Europe. We went to 11 countries in 2 months.  We went to England, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, France, Ireland, and Wales (in that order).  If you ever have the chance to do something like this, DO IT!  Wouldn't trade that experience for the world.

7.) I am pretty much addicted to sleeping with a fan.  If we travel, I take a small one with me.  I have a REALLY hard time sleeping in silence because then I hear every little noise or creak and I can't get to sleep.  I have friends that share this sickness.  The ones that come to mind are Cindy, Josh and Steve's step-mom Jacey.

I am going to tag:
1.) Karah
2.) Julia
3.) Janet
4.) Jen
5.) Steve (who probably won't do it)
6.) My Mom (she doesn't even have a blog)
7.) Yo Mama

Friday, October 17, 2008

House of Blues

So it wasn't THAT bad...actually, it was pretty fun.


There was not a single inquiry to buy my tickets, but this
might have had something to do with the fact that someone else was selling identical tickets to mine for about $30 less.  I guess they were really mad about Brooke not being there...

Steve and I decided to buck up, look on the bright side, and enjoy our evening out together.  OK, really, I was the only one who had to *buck up*.  Steve was fine, but he was just the escort, ya know?  He never really had much of a desire to go to this concert in the first place, but he was willing to take me because I wanted to go for my birthday.  Nice guy.  :-)

So we went to eat
here.  Yummy.

I had the Stuffed Chicken Marsala.


Steve had the Venetian Apricot Chicken.


I think Steve was wishing HE had ordered the Stuffed Chicken Marsala...

Then, probably the best part of my night, was sharing this...


Wowzer. I had to make Steve slow down. I was trying to savor my bites, and he was plowing through it like he would never eat dessert again.

So then we headed to downtown Dallas. We brought Steve's camera so that I could take some good shots during the concert. We had some reservations that they might not let us bring it in, but they searched my purse before we entered and they didn't say anything about it. (My friend
Karah recently went to the New Kids on the Block reunion concert, and they wouldn't let her bring her camera in because the lens was too long)

The venue where they hold the concerts is really cool. It is small. We were in the center balcony, 4th row, and the view was excellent. The tickets on the floor are cheaper, but you have to stand up the whole time. And you know, 32 year olds don't really like to stand up at concerts for 2 hours anymore...

Here are some shots from the night. First up,
Meiko.  She has a really interesting sound to her voice and is a pretty decent story teller in her songs.


Next up,
Erin McCarley.  Sort of had the rock-n-roll edge to her music.  We really liked her. Home town girl from Garland, TX.


Priscilla Ahn. She would do these amazing vocal runs, record it on a loop pedal, then play it back and harmonize with herself. She would THEN play harmonica on top of that, while she was still playing guitar. Pretty cool. She had a beautiful, haunting voice. Please click
here and listen to this song. You will see how she loops things in this video.



And
Ingrid Michaelson.


She was the headliner, but probably my least favorite of the 4 girls.

Least favorite parts of the evening...

1. Getting told by a big bouncer once we were inside that I was not allowed to use my camera because it was of the "professional" variety. 

2. Some of the girls were potty mouths on stage between their songs. Not really so impressed by that. 

3.  And last but not least, the group of drunk women about 2 rows back that crossed over the line between being rambunctious to being obnoxious.

Favorite parts of the evening...

1.  The pumpkin cheesecake, as mentioned above. 

2. Having a break from baths and bedtime for an evening. 

3. Being exposed to some new, interesting and creative music. 

4. And most of all, getting to spend an evening out with the man I love doing something different and fun!

And one more thing. Don't mess.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thankful...but B-U-M-M-E-D

With a capital B.

First, I want to thank everyone for all the sweet comments, emails, phone messages, and generous outpouring of LOVE shown to me yesterday on my birthday.  I had a beautiful bouquet of flowers delivered to me by a cute little old lady in a Scion.  She made my day!  (Well, my husband made my day. Thanks sweet husband!)


Also, when I picked Seth up from pre-school yesterday, I had to take him to therapy.  So when he got in the car, I said, "Seth, guess what today is?" trying to prompt him to remember, and get excited about, going to Mrs. Muggs office. Instead, he breaks into, "Happy Birthday" in full voice and sings it all the way through to me.  So lovely and sweet.  Loved every second of it!

I didn't have to cook a single meal yesterday!  Another reason to be thankful :-) We had chinese for lunch, and while Steve was teaching guitar lessons yesterday evening, I ate barbecue with my parents, sister and nephew and enjoyed some yummy birthday spice cake with caramel icing.  Ummm-ummm-good.

So there are so many reasons to be thankful.  Why am I bummed, you ask?

Well, for my birthday, Steve is supposed to take me to a concert at the House of Blues here in Dallas tomorrow night.  I REALLY like this new artist - Brooke Fraser.  


She is from Australia, and she sings with the group Hillsong United.  She also has her own music, and my sweet father-in-law has blessed me by giving me two of her albums, "Albertine" and "What to Do with Daylight". Not for my birthday, not for Christmas. They just showed up in the mail on a random Tuesday...because that's how he rolls :-) Here is a song that is getting a lot of play at some local stations here in Dallas, "Shadowfeet". Press play and tell me what you think...




So she is traveling with this group called the
Hotel Cafe Tour, and there are several other independent female artists that were going to be performing with her. Ingrid Michaelson is one of them, and if anyone remembers the Old Navy sweater commercials from last winter, she was the one that sang the theme song from that "The Way I Am".

We purchased these tickets a couple weeks ago, but you have to go on Ticketmasters website to print them off before the concert. So I went on the site this afternoon, and lo and behold, the information had changed. Brooke Fraser's name was no where to be found, and someone named Laura Jansen had been put in her place. WHHHHHHAAAATTTT?

So I did some fast searching around on the internet and found out that Brooke Fraser is sick and has had to cancel for the next two weeks of the tour. At this point, I am pretty sure I had that pained look on my face, scrunched up nose, furrowed brow, mouth gaping open slightly. I don't mind saying that these tickets were not cheap. We do not go to concerts often, and I bypassed presents this year for tickets to this concert.


Dear Brooke,

You can't be sick. You just can't. Didn't you know you were supposed to sing for my birthday?

Please get better soon.

Your fan,
Courtney

P.S. And if you're not feeling better soon, just suck it up and play...cause it's my birthday, ok?


I called House of Blues and tried to appeal to the emotions of a guy named "Christian" who answered the phone at the box office. He wasn't buying any of it, said Brooke wasn't going to be able to make it and they had already replaced her with another artist; therefore...no refunds.

Doesn't he know that he is ruining my birthday? (Yes, that sound you hear is the sound of Courtney having a pity-party here in the privacy of my own home. And Steve got to witness it when he came home from work...)

I have already placed the tickets for sale on Craigslist, but the problem is that the show is not sold out. So I am thinking that the first place people are going to be looking for tickets is at the venue's website. So I may be out of luck.

And maybe, just maybe, we will go and have a wonderful time. If no one comes a knockin' on Craigslist, we will be at the concert tomorrow night. You all can just pray for a miraculous change in my attitude!! Cuz I need it!! (Honesty is always the best policy)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

It's Family Portrait Time

The Horvath's Family Portrait, circa 2006


So is anyone else planning to attempt the old family portrait this fall? Oh the fun we will have...snicker, cough.

Let's talk about all the potential disasters, shall we?

1.) I am married to a photographer. Photographers are not known for having much patience with taking pictures of, or with, their own families. Especially a 2 year old and a 4 year old who would rather be doing almost
anything than sitting still and posing for pictures.

2.) One of the kids misbehaves on the way to take the pictures, and you have to make a choice: do you discipline, knowing that weeping and wailing may ensue and then you have pouty grumpy child sitting in your lap on your Christmas card, or do you overlook it and set yourself up for disaster later. Hmmmmm......

3.) So you get dressed and have the kids in their cute clothes and one of any number of things happens, possibly including but not limited to snot, spit, snacks, drinks, sweat, dirt, grease, pee, or whatever sticky, nasty goodness they may find hidden in the dark crevices of their car seats.

And while we are at it, let's talk about getting to the point where you actually pick out the cute clothes that they will wear. Oh, I long for the bygone days when it was in style to all wear matching clothes in the family pictures. You know, black and denim, white and khaki. Now, the photography trends of the day state that you pick a few choices from the same color families and then coordinate, tying family members together with subtle accent pieces.

The boys fall picture, September 2007. Yes, they were in matching heaven.


***Now, I am sure I have already lost a few of you. Some of you are thinking, get a life, pull a shirt out of your closet, and take the darn picture. I am a firm believer that each of us have areas of our lives that we spend a little too much time thinking about, mine just might be different than yours.***

So I thought I would ask those of you who care to comment what your thoughts are on color choices for family pictures. I would love to hear what you have to say! Any ideas, seen any great family pictures lately, any great color combos?

Please comment, as long as it isn't, "Get a life, pull a shirt out of your closet....".


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sunday, October 5, 2008

If you liked that last video I posted...

then head over here to see a covert video Steve took of Seth rockin' out in his room to Hillsong United's Break Free.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Makin' Momma Proud

video

First up is the Pledge of Allegiance. Second, the Texas Pledge for all those proud Texans out there. Just a translation on that one...he starts out saying "I honor the Texas the flag..."